It turns out that a country on the other side of the world might be to blame for some of the bone-chilling weather we’ve been experiencing over the past few months.
While global warming is still being touted by most experts as the primary reason for the spat of wacky, worldwide weather in recent years, physicists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory believe air pollution specifically from China and India could be responsible for some of it as well.
“We found that pollution from China affects cloud development in the North Pacific and strengthens extratropical cyclones,” said JPL researcher Yuan Wang.
Extratropical cyclones, for the record, are the forces that move weather patterns around the globe. When they become stronger, a storm is usually created. As a result, “These large storms punctuate U.S. winters and springs about once a week, often producing heavy snow and intense cold,” NASA reports. In fact, Wang believes the extreme weather the eastern United States endured in 2013 could’ve had something to do with Asia’s air pollution problem.
How is that possible, you ask? Air pollution makes clouds thicker and heavier with more precipitation, which then messes with those extratropical cyclones we mentioned earlier. The intense storms that come as a result can affect the upper-atmosphere wind patterns, called the polar jet stream.
For anyone who remembers the infamous “polar vortex,” this should be starting to make sense.
While the space agency seems to focus on U.S. weather patterns, the research being referred to spanned the entire continent of North America. NASA actually released an animation that shows where the pollution created from various countries ends up.
Much of those emissions, it turns out, hit Canada’s west coast after crossing the Pacific, or travel further north on it’s way across the Atlantic. It’s not exactly clear what extreme weather, specifically, could be blamed on this phenomenon, but we’re guessing it might’ve had something to do with the 2013 ice storm in Toronto. But again, that’s just a guess.
“During the last 30 years, clouds over the Pacific Ocean have grown deeper, and storms in the Northwest Pacific have become about 10 percent stronger. This is the same time frame as the economic boom in Asia,” NASA reports.
For what it’s worth, the people in China are starting to wake up to the catastrophic affect this pollution is having, particularly in their own country. A recent documentary that focused on the country’s pollution problem titled “Under the Dome” recently went viral, attracting hundreds of millions of views in just a few days.
Which is great news, because we can’t handle another winter like this.